Losing my balance

Posted: May 27, 2014 in Musings, Personal
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been thinking about balance a lot lately. Two years ago to the day as I write this post, I wrote a Friday Fitness post about improving your physical balance, something that, although important throughout life, becomes more important as you grow older. The good news is that it isn’t difficult to improve your physical balance at all and can very easily be done while doing something else, such as watching TV or brushing your teeth.

Balance in life is a very different matter. When I grew up, balance consisted of getting chores and homework done while leaving enough time to run around outside playing with friends until Mom called us home to eat. It seems to me that we spent most of the summer outdoors and when we were lucky, we visited my grandparents on the farm or went on our annual vacation to some part of the US. Since we didn’t get a television until I was away at high school, TV wasn’t a distraction for us, but a rare treat in the evenings at the farm or at a friend’s. Books were the main indoor contestant for my attention.

Now life is quite different. The tentacles of the online world stretch everywhere, invading every aspect of our lives. Although my parents don’t have a computer, they’re in a tiny minority and life is quickly becoming almost impossible to navigate without at least going to the library to use the computer occasionally. Banks and financial institutions want to send everything via email, ordering is much easier (and sometime must be done) online, the instant communication that we desire takes place in the ether via our phones or laptops.

But the most insidious thing is that…it’s so easy.  And we allow ourselves to feel that it’s also necessary.

Most of us, (yes, even my husband and I) have smartphones, so we can be and are tempted to be online at all times. The meme of a family “watching” TV together while all on their devices isn’t funny; it’s all too real. People meet for lunch, supposedly to talk, while next to their water glasses are their phones, receiving as much attention or more than their lunch companions. There are more things that “need” updating than I even use or know about: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and ?? Your life—lived online, live, as it happens, if you choose.  And you can keep up with other people just as easily

And then there are blogs…and with blogs there are daily writing challenges, photo challenges, and all sorts of other interesting and useful (or not) things to read and participate in.

Where does real life fit in?

I’ve been asking myself that lately. I love blogging. I love reading other people’s blogs. I love the photo challenges, the writing challenges, the relationships, being able to talk with people all over the world. But I’m beginning to feel as though I’m drowning in email, posts, reading and commenting on stories, viewing photos, and online time in general, even though I love doing all those things.   I have to ask the questions.

 

  • How is my time best spent?
  • Am I ignoring the real for the online?
  • As a writer, is my time better spent reading…or writing? Where’s the balance?
  • If I had another hour or two each day to use, what could I be accomplishing?
  • And there are the more mundane things such as does the yard need work, the house need  cleaning, the boxes in the basement need organizing (and that I included that means that it does, doesn’t it), and so forth.

What are the answers? I have to decide where to cut back, what’s important, what I want to do and how often I want to do it.   Last week, after dropping my husband off at work, I went for a long walk in a nearby park, away from people and the trappings of the suburbs. It was incredible how relaxed I felt, even though I had my phone for the photos that constantly beg to be taken. I felt free and balanced. That’s a pretty big hint.

I feel the need to wrest back control of my life from Online and give it back to me. That’s going to involve making decisions. But for me, it’s time

Comments
  1. M-R says:

    And fair enough too !

  2. Tish Farrell says:

    I know how you feel. All this online stuff induces elements of competitiveness one didn’t even know one had. My own thought was to try and treat blogging as ‘writing practice’ and not to spend so much time on each piece, i.e. to make it a discipline rather than a diversion. At the moment it’s more of an aim than an actuality. Good luck finding your balance.

  3. Oh yes, I also have this dilemma. As you say it’s all so tempting, and one really doesn’t want to miss out on anything, but one has to know where to draw the line. Finding the right balance between the real world and the online world is something we all need to focus on, more and more.

  4. pike12 says:

    I agree. It’s a problem. Relax all of you, but don’t disappear!

  5. Janet,
    a few years ago I had a writing blog, facebook, twitter, etc.. One day i woke up and felt I had more pressure from the online arena than my own life. Knew I had to re-balance things so I closed up shop on everything but my blog.Then even the pressure to write a post daily got too much so I closed that blog and now a year later I only have my photo blog, narrowed down the # of people I follow so I can keep up with their posts (I still miss a few ;-)..
    My advice, only post a few times a week, read other’s a few days a week and the rest of the time is for YOU!!!

    • One thing about a photo blog is that it’s easier to keep up than a writing blog, at least as far as I’m concerned. When I began my blog over two years ago, everything was writing. Then I started adding a few photos, when I realized that so many photos found online are copyrighted, meaning I wouldn’t use them without permission from the photographer. Now I’ve gotten more to the photography side because I have so many photos and it’s simple to put one up when I’m rushed for time. Not that it’s bad, just different. I’m trying to get a bit more balance there, too, but I enjoying the blogging and right now find every day not to be a problem. But I refuse to sit inside when the weather’s great, trying to do all the online things and missing out on life. (Beside, if I go out, I always have more photos.) 😦

      Thanks for keeping me on your blog list!

      janet

  6. Joyce says:

    I hear you, Janet. And, I can relate. I have had to decrease my online time considerably and find my ‘balance’. It is hard when so many other outside responsibilities demand your attention and without it they suffer. My husband and I have cell phones but they are not smart phones and we only have them on or use them when we are away from home to answer calls from our girls or friends trying to reach us or for emergencies. I do not post to my blog usually more than once or twice a week now and for the sake of balance and not becoming obsessed with my writing I try to limit it now more so I can get in my walks, time with husband and family, chores, and get outside to smell the roses. 🙂 Most importantly though is the time I have neglected with the Lord and just in prayer for others and getting into His word rather than everyone else’s.

  7. OH, Janet, you hit the nail on the head. I have been working in my garden and rehearsing for storytelling performances with my family, and that feels GOOD. The blog is really the only online thing I do, except for checking FB once a day, which I keep up with because that’s where I also post my blog. No Twitter or Pinterest or anything else, but it still feels overwhelming. I generate a new post on my blog no more than once a week, and sometimes it stretches out to almost two weeks, although I do sometimes enter older posts in the photo challenges, which saves time and yet feels like a good way to participate. Keeping up with other people’s blogs is very time-consuming, but I enjoy it and I also want to reciprocate since they have taken the time to read mine, and I always answer every person who takes the time to comment on my blog. I feel as though my writing, the fiction that I can sell, is neglected. I haven’t found the balance yet.

    • I, too, reply to everyone, Naomi, just part of the reciprocity. I don’t follow as many blogs as I would like to right now but I try to keep fairly current with those I do. I love the camaraderie of the internet and the people I’ve met there. I also enjoy meeting them in person if at all possible. I’ve met at least four in real life and hope to meet more soon and while in Australia and New Zealand late next year.

      janet

  8. Mara Eastern says:

    Hope you’ll find a good solution soon. I think everyone feels like this from time to time…

  9. vastlycurious.com says:

    My question is …….did you take your phone on your walk in the park? Evil grin. 😀

    Nice post Janet ! It pervades our life if we let it!

  10. Gina says:

    Janet, I know exactly what you’re talking about with your post. We know when something is out of balance, and where the solution is. You mentioned your big clue in feeling free when you went for the long walk away from everything.

    With a new book out, the temptation to be constantly online is strong. Lucky for me, I found a balance. I do what I love to do online for a set amount of time each day, and the rest is spent with family, taking care of myself, and my home. There’s a limit to online.

    Commitments come first, so they are always honored. If there’s no time for online, I don’t make it on. I have the same limit with writing, taking every weekend away from it. You know, it still happens! I make progress on my writing projects every week day. I’m writing a special short story for my monthly newsletter right now and the joy of writing it is fantastically fulfilling.

    Life is good!

    • Gina, life is good and we’re blessed to have so much from which to choose. Congratulations on the book, too. My writing right now is mostly on my blog, but I plan on trying to do more soon. Enjoy the weekend!

      janet

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